Years ago, MMA fans could’ve only dreamt of the possibility of seeing their beloved sport accepted as “mainstream.” Now, they may be regretting it.

For the first time in the promotion’s history, the UFC will run two separate events on the same day. UFC Fight Night 41 takes place in Berlin, Germany, and The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 Finale takes place in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It will be a daunting task for the UFC to handle. There are an infinite number of problems that can come up during a live event, but now the UFC is adding double the workload.

That also means double the amount of time needed for MMA fans to catch the action-packed fights. Fans will have to set aside quite a significant amount of time on their Saturday if they want to watch both cards. Odds are, fans will tune into one while either reading the results or checking the highlights of the other. The dual event mirrors that of other mainstream sports. The NFL, MLB and NBA all have multiple games going on at the same time during their regular seasons. If MMA is going to join the ranks of the big boys, why shouldn’t it do the same?

Although getting MMA to be mainstream was and still is a popular thought among some fans, it’s not for the best. With the promotion hosting dual events, most fans—you know, the ones with social lives, family, work and such—are forced to choose between one card over the other, if any at all. There was a time when an UFC event was something special. You’d head out to the local sports bar or invite the guys over and split the cost of a pay-per-view at a house. UFC events became social activities. Now, not so much.

The UFC is putting on more and more events each year, which unfortunately is leading to what many consider to be watered-down cards. For every UFC 168, there’s at least another handful of UFC 161s. Unless a favorite fighter or one deemed to be “once in a lifetime talent” is competing, the UFC cards simply don’t feel special anymore. And it’s not just me. Look at the recent pay-per-view buyrates as proof:


Date
Event
Estimated Pay-Per-View Buys

02/01/2014
UFC 169: Barao vs Faber II
230,000

02/22/2014
UFC 170: Rousey vs McMann
340,000

03/15/2014
UFC 171: Hendricks vs Lawler
300,000

04/26/2014
UFC 172: Jones vs Teixeira
350,000


That’s all of the UFC’s pay-per-views thus far in 2014, outside of the most recent UFC 173. The Barao-Faber II card turned out to be a major disappointment considering it was the UFC’s Super Bowl show, a card that has been historically featured as a big event by the promotion. Also, look at the numbers for Ronda Rousey (UFC 170) and Jon Jones (UFC 172). The two are considered to be the top stars in the UFC. UFC President Dana White even contends that Rousey is the biggest star in the company’s history. Yet, they can’t even break 400,000 pay-per-view buys? To put that in perspective, prior to the UFC’s boom period, its top star, Chuck Liddell, was able to pull 500,000 buys against Renato “Babalu” Sobral.

You can either claim this as the UFC’s failure to build stars, which is true to a degree, or you can point to the fact that the UFC is simply putting on too many events. The upcoming UFC 175 or December’s UFC 168 are evidence that if the UFC were to put better quality cards together, fan interest would rise. MMA fans still love to toss around the “boxing is dead” line, but one needs only look at the numbers that boxing’s major stars pull to realize that’s not the case. For example, Manny Pacquiao’s rematch with Timothy Bradley scored the lowest gate of any Pacquiao fight, and failed to break one million buys. The 775,000 to 800,000 buys were viewed as a disappointment. Meanwhile, the UFC is trying to herald Jones and Rousey scoring 300,000 to 350,000 buys as a success.

MMA doesn’t have to be mainstream to be a success. I love watching free fights on television just as much as the next guy. But if it means waiting a couple weeks for a better event, I’d happily choose to wait. Dana White’s might respond to this by asking, “Are you a fight fan?!”. Well, yes, I am, and I love watching fights when the opportunity presents itself. But is it too much to ask for those opportunities to be something special, you know, like they used to be?

About The Author

Kyle Symes
Staff Writer

Kyle is a recent graduate of Aurora University, where he obtained a Bachelor's in Communications. Kyle resides in Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He played baseball and football in both high school and college, but is now focusing on an amateur MMA career.